We are close to seven days removed from the WHL Trade Deadline and as expected, Oil Kings GM Kirt Hill stayed quiet. It wasn’t exactly a secret that the Oil Kings were interested in potentially adding some forward depth, perhaps someone with some sandpaper, but despite the fact that there were a few players traded on deadline day who fit that description, Hill didn’t make a move.
The team has the most points in the WHL so you might be wondering why their GM didn’t make a move to put his team over the edge? Well, I commend Hill for staying patient.
Yes, the Oil Kings have a great chance to win a title this year and there’s no doubt that this years team is fully capable of doing so, especially with the addition of Beck Warm between the pipes, but for a second, just imagine how good they’ll be next season?
Jake Neighbours and Matt Robertson, who are already top-tier players in this league, will be a year older and should only get better. Rookie sensations Sebastien Cossa and Dylan Guenther should be better. The list goes on and on top of that, they have a really nice first-round pick from the Kelowna Rockets now in their possession as a result of the Connor McDonald trade.
The Oil Kings have a great opportunity this season, but next year could be a chance for them to really load up and go on a run. They could not be just WHL favourites next season, but they’ll be in the conversation as Memorial Cup favourites. They’ll be that good. For that reason, I applaud Kirt Hill for not using significant future assets at this year’s deadline.
It’s not like he completely stood still either. As I mentioned, the addition of Beck Warm does a lot to solidify their goaltending duo and getting defenseman Sam Stewart as well was a sneaky good move. If there’s been one thing that Hill has been good at during his Oil Kings tenure, it’s been finding bargains or players that maybe weren’t being used properly by their former clubs. Stewart helps shore up their blueline. Injuries can hit out of nowhere and having an extra layer on depth never hurts.
When you consider the deal(s) with Tri-City and the moves that Hill made over the last 6-8 months to acquire veteran forwards Ethan McIndoe and Riley Sawchuk, I think Oil Kings fans should be ecstatic with the work that has been done by Kirt Hill and when you look at the not-so-distant future of this organization, Oil Kings fans should be expecting a title soon.
NEIGHBOURS HEADS TO THE PROSPECTS GAME
Oil Kings forward Jake Neighbours has been playing some damn fine hockey as of late. He scored and netted the shootout winner in the team’s big win over the Prince Albert Raiders and over his last 10 games he has a stat line of 6-6-12 with a total of 41 shots on goal. He’s starting to heat up and as he’s become known to do, he plays some of his best hockey in big games.
Last season, he really broke out during the teams’ playoff run with some huge performances against the Calgary Hitmen, including a massive overtime winner. He ended his first appearance in the WHL playoffs with 12 points in 16 games.
He’s simply a clutch player and his performance against the Raiders proved it once again.
Last night, Neighbours, who was ranked 30th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in their mid-season rankings, will be taking part in tonights CHL Top Prospects Game.
He looked good, especially early in the game, and made some really smart plays. It’s apparent that he’s very skilled and he knows how to use his size to his advantage but when you get a chance to watch him on a regular basis, you really start to notice all the small plays he makes that show his intelligence on the ice. He’s a very smart hockey player.
“Just getting little tips and tricks from other guys, learning how they prepare and play the games and maybe you can apply it to your preparation and how you play the game. It was a really good experience,” said Neighbours after the game in an interview with WHL.ca.
Tonight, the Oil Kings go head-to-head with the Prince Albert Raiders at Rogers Place. The Oil Kings have grabbed points in six straight games and are coming off a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over the Raiders last week in Prince Albert.
The team will wrap up their quick two-game homestand on Sunday when they host the Medicine Hat Tigers.